Revisited: Oh, what we’ll do for a job

Gardening as exercise regimen?

The corporate health initiative at my workplace is now in its sixth week. As I described in my June post(, the so-called Green Paces program encourages employees to improve their physical condition by increasing their walking. Five-person teams were formed, amateurish motivational posters were put up, pedometers were issued and daily step counts were recorded.

At the latest count, my team is ranked tenth out of eleven at our site. On a corporate-wide level, there are 655 teams ahead of us, which may sound bad until you consider there are over a thousand teams involved. Actually, it sounds bad regardless of the competition.

I don’t want to point any fingers at the source of our pathetic performance, but our failure is pretty obviously due to a certain individual on our team. While the rest of us are regularly recording step counts in the range of 80,000 paces per week, Bob is dragging us down with numbers about half that. The least he could do is hop about his office while participating in his conference calls.

Even the best team at our site is only in eighty-fourth place. In an effort to keep our spirit of competition alive, despite having about as much chance of winning as Michael Jackson did at Wimbledon, our local captain is doubling down in her calls for endurance to strongly finish the 12-week event.

“REMEMBER THE GOAL OF THIS PROGRAM IS TO GET PEOPLE WALKING. IT TRULY IS AN INDIVIDUAL CHALLENGE!!” shouts the printout posted next to the breakroom door. “Please be sure to encourage and support each other. Way to go Teams!! Let’s keep it up!!”

I feel like I’m doing my part, so don’t look at me. I recently discovered that simply raising and lowering your heels while standing, from a flat-footed position to a tippy-toe position, counts the same as a step, and actually causes enough exertion to feel like exercise. So, I repeat, don’t look at me – especially when I’m standing at the urinal bobbing up and down like a piston with prostate problems.

If that sounds at all like cheating, it’s not, at least according to the official rules of the competition. In order to give credit for other valid types of exercise, the regulations specify that we calculate any non-walking exercise to equal 2,000 steps for every 15 minutes. The examples mentioned include biking, jogging, swimming and weight-training, though I know for a fact that some people are counting house-cleaning and gardening.

I can understand the cleaning, since I also work up a pretty good sweat vacuuming our carpets (I think of the dripping perspiration as an organic cleanser). But I just don’t see how you can count gardening as a workout. I’ll admire a juicy, vine-ripened tomato as much as the next person, and yet I hardly think of that as a way to keep fit. Touching some dirt might qualify as a stretch, though it’s not quite a workout. I might give you five steps for squishing a caterpillar, but that’s about it.

So I guess my team will continue to languish in the bottom third of the competition. In the last standings, we trailed a group called the “Walk A Roos” by over a hundred miles. “Looks like we have our work cut out for us,” writes our team leader in an understatement. “Wanted to share these results to help motivate everyone to work on increasing your weekly step counts.”

That definitely gets me motivated. Next week, I’m counting 2,000 steps for getting pissed off at the gardeners.

Check with your physician before admiring

Check with your physician before admiring

I’d do anything (anything) for you

While blogging at my favorite café the other day, I found myself sitting next to what appeared to be an off-site job interview. A young, well-dressed man was eagerly answering questions being posed by the middle-aged guy across from him. I could see a one-page resume sitting on the table between them.

Anyone currently out of work who is fortunate enough to score a one-on-one meeting with someone in hiring mode knows how critical this session can be in making or breaking the success of the job hunt. You want so much to present a good impression that it’s easy for your responses to get a little out of hand.

The job being discussed was a regional sales position for a paint company. The salary was about $50,000 annually, a very good wage for a twenty-something living in South Carolina. The applicant’s willingness to do what it took to succeed in the job was being severely tested.

“This is not a sit-down office job, you know. There may be days where you’re in the stores helping to shelve paint cans,” the hiring manager said. “You can get dirty and sweaty.”

“That’s okay, sir,” the younger man said. “I’m not afraid of hard work.”

“You may start out one morning to make a sales call in Greenville and you’ll get a call telling you to go to Aiken instead,” said the manager.

“I understand,” said the applicant.

“We may at some point split this region into two sectors, and we require our salespeople to live in a certain area,” the manager continued. “Would you be willing to relocate?”

This time there was hesitation in the young man’s response, but he soon agreed that this too would be acceptable.

This is about the point where I wondered how far someone looking for work in this terrible economy would be willing to go. My imagination with how the interview might continue to evolve got a bit carried away.

“Our competitor’s paint is sold right next to ours,” I could hear the older man saying. “Would you be willing to replace their paint with puddings of different flavors? You know, butterscotch for the light brown, vanilla for the eggshell, etc.?”

“Would you be willing to apply our product to your face and neck when you make sales calls to new clients? To show your dedication to the brand?”

“How do you feel about drinking our paint to show how environmentally friendly it is? Not the semi-gloss, of course, just the matte finish.”

“Would you be willing to threaten retailers with a knife if they don’t give us end-cap prominence in the store display? If not a knife, how about a very sharp stick?”

It’s a very tight job market out there. I bet a lot of people would be willing to think about it.

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